Chapter

A Strange Little Upstart

Leslie Berlin

in The Man behind the Microchip

Published in print September 2005 | ISBN: 9780195163438
Published online September 2007 | e-ISBN: 9780199788569 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195163438.003.0007
 A Strange Little Upstart

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This chapter focuses on Robert Noyce's unconventional management approach at Fairchild Semiconductor. In the mid-1960s, Fairchild Semiconductor was not a typical semiconductor company. Andy Grove, who joined in 1963, once described the company as “a strange little upstart”, a phrase that captured the essence of the organization. Noyce, for instance, disdained hierarchy. He would stop to talk to anyone about anything and knew many details of his employees' personal lives. He also liked to gather a group of informed people in a room, listen to their opinions, and get a broad acceptance on the next steps before he made a decision. However, Noyce's and Semiconductor's focus on innovation, which had served the company so well in its early years, proved debilitating as the firm matured. It contributed to a culture that prioritized research over manufacturing and disdained routine but important work such as knowing inventory levels or the status of an order.

Keywords: Robert Noyce; management; Fairchild Semiconductor; semiconductor industry; integrated circuits

Chapter.  12776 words. 

Subjects: History of Science and Technology

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